Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Three councils join reef project

Three Queensland councils have joined a research project to protect the Great Barrier Reef from silt washed from thousands of kilometres of unsealed country roads.

Cassowary Coast, Isaac and Bundaberg regional councils have joined the Cleaner Road Runoff research project, which has already started monitoring unsealed roads and their impact on water quality at test sites in Whitsunday Regional Council and Gladstone Regional Council in the Reef catchment.

With an estimated average 25mm of road material washing off the top of 38,000km of unsealed roads in the Reef catchment every year, the project could have a massive impact on the health of the Reef as well as benefit the communities that cherish and rely on it, says Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) CEO, Alison Smith.

“It is terrific to be able to expand this project with another three councils,” Ms Smith said.

“This research will give councils critical information to help advocate for funding to create cleaner road runoff to protect our Reef and better roads for communities.”

Fine sediments like those washed from unsealed roads and drains are one of the three greatest water quality risks to the Reef, reducing light to seagrass beds and inshore coral reefs, said Ms Smith.

The Cleaner Road Runoff project results are expected to form the basis of guidelines to improve road design and maintenance.

The program expansion comes after the Local Government Association of Queensland secured an additional $1 million of funding from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), extending the research until May 2024 and including the extra reef catchment councils.

The expansion of the program was announced at the LGAQ’s inaugural Coastal Leaders Forum in Gladstone.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director, Anna Marsden said: “Partnerships and innovation are critical to solving the challenges facing our Great Barrier Reef.

“If we can improve the quality of the water flowing out to the Reef, we can improve the health of the Reef and the marine life that depends on it.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Cassowary Coast, Isaac and Bundaberg regional councils as Clean Road Runoff project partners which will allow us to expand the impact of this important research already underway with LGAQ in the Whitsunday and Gladstone regions.”

The Cleaner Road Runoff Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from Griffith University, IPWEAQ, Department of Environment and Science, Office of the Great Barrier Reef, Bundaberg Regional Council, Whitsunday Regional Council and Gladstone Regional Council.

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